Taupo Treble - Zourian Delivers 1000 NZ Wins for Walker

Date: 7 Feb 2023

Taupo Treble - Zourian Delivers 1000 NZ Wins for Walker


Nine-time Champion Trainer Mark Walker recorded his 1000th domestic win when Zourian (2 f Zoustar - Irion, by Danroad) scored on debut in the $14,000 Placemakers 2YO 1100 metres on 7 February at Taupo.

In just his 14th season training in New Zealand, the winner of five premierships between 1997 and 2010 then spent 11 years training for Te Akau in Singapore, adding four Champion Trainer titles, before commencing again on 1 April last year from where it all began - at Matamata. 

It has already been a red-letter season for Walker, who achieved his 100th domestic stakes' success when Aromatic (Sacred Falls) won the Counties Cup (Gr. 2, 2100m) in November. 

He notched the fastest 100 when Pure Imagination (Darci Brahma) won on 13 January at Tauranga, breaking the previous record set by former Te Akau trainer Jamie Richards, who achieved the feat on 28 January 2021.

Walker is also on target to surpass the domestic record (160) set by Richards in 2020/21 for wins in a season. 

Prior to his departure to Singapore, Walker had 858 winners, including 88 stakes' wins, while during his time away he trained 684 winners and overall has prepared 1685 of 2356 wins for Te Akau. 

It was fitting that his 1000th was for Cambridge Stud owners Brendan and Jo Lindsay, who have a strong relationship with Te Akau who bought and prepared their four-time Group One winner and reigning dual Horse of the Year Probabeel (Savabeel).

Like Probabeel and Marvelouz (Almanzor), who won earlier on the programme, Zourian was also purchased by David Ellis CNZM as a yearling at Karaka, and subsequently on sold to Cambridge Stud. 

An outstanding looking filly, Zourian was secured for $475,000 at the 2022 Karaka Book 1 Sale, from the draft of Pencarrow Stud. 

After looking good in her stylish solitary trial win on 17 January at Tauranga, Zorian was a short priced favourite ($1.50 & $1.30) and duly obliged under jockey Warren Kennedy.

A stride slow from barrier one, Zourian recovered to co-lead, travelled well nearing the home turn, and flattened out in good fashion when asked to extend at the business end. 

On footing that remained Soft6 throughout the day, Zourian ran 1100 metres in 1:06.9.

“She's still quite babyish and only kicked in across the line,” said Kennedy, on dismounting. “Once the horse came to her, she said, right, let's go.

“They were never going to get past her and she would have just held them off. She didn't get to full speed and she's quality.”

Cambridge Stud racing manager Jason Smith, on course to oversee the runners, said: “She's a beautiful filly who should only improve out of the run and, all going well, she could contest the Matamata Breeders' Stakes in two and a half weeks.”

The Matamata Breeders' Stakes (Gr. 2, 1200m) is raced on Saturday 25 February at Matamata, where Te Akau is looking to record its eighth win in the race.

“She's from a phenomenal family this filly and we love winning races for Brendan and Jo,” Ellis said.

“They took full ownership of these two fillies that won in their colours today, the same as with Probabeel, who won four Group One races for them in Australia, and who is now in foal to Almanzor.

“They put so much back into the industry and are doing an amazing job of running Cambridge Stud, after they bought it from Sir Patrick and Justine, Lady Hogan.

“They're standing two young stallions that we trained to win Group One races, Embellish (Savabeel) and Sword of State (Snitzel). 

“We think Embellish will make the grade with his autumn two-year-olds and as three-year-olds and onwards, and Sword of State, who just served his first season, is an exciting prospect, and in January this year I purchased his half-sister at the Gold Coast Yearling Sales - who we have some final shares available in.

“Brendan and Jo also have a share in Tokyo Tycoon who won the Karaka Million 2YO for us this season, so they're having a lot of fun.”

On the wonderful milestone for Walker, Ellis, who employed him at Te Akau straight out of school, said: “It's incredible, really, given the time he spent away training for us in Singapore.

“He's a world-class trainer that works so hard, a proper horseman, and he deserves all the success he gets.

“Karyn and I are just so proud of the job Mark has done and continues to do so well.”

Zourian is from one of the most naturally gifted family of thoroughbred racehorses you could wish for.

While dam Irion, by Danehill son Danroad, won four races to 1600 metres, the quality of horses below second dam Dopff is in some way unprecedented for ability.

Winning eight races, including a Group Two 1600-metre race and two listed 1400 metres, Dopff left seven individual winners of 33 races. 

The distaff line has left impressive winners Octapussy (Octagonal), Pussy Willow (O'Reilly), Pussy O'Reilly (O'Reilly), Valpolicella (Red Ransom), Vavasour (Redoute's Choice), Shezzacatch (Savabeel), and Travimyfriend (Tavistock). 

Sire Zoustar, having won six of nine starts, including two Group One and Group Two titles, became one of most sought after stallions in Australia, following the premature demise of his sire Northern Meteor (Encosta De Lago), Champion First Season Sire.

In turn, Zoustar was Champion First, Second, and Third Season Sire. 

Zoustar was sold to stud for A$14 million in the week leading up to his victory in Coolmore Stud Stakes (Gr. 1, 1200m) at Flemington, which provided jockey Jim Cassidy with his 100th Group One winner. Cassidy claimed Zoustar to be “a better three-year-old than Redoute's Choice and more brilliant than Pierro”.

Zorian carries a Danehill cross through dam line of Zoustar and sire line of Irion. 

Zourian was strapped by Stephanie Hyde-Richards.


Photo credit - www.raceimages.co.nz


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